2 Jul 2014

7 Tips to Hosting a Frugal Children's Birthday Party

J has just turned 3 and we celebrated by hosting a birthday party for him. This was his first proper birthday party; he was too little to understand what was going on when he turned 1. And he was rather unwell when he turned 2 so had to do without a birthday party.

We decided to buck the trend and host his party at home. I am not one to yield to peer pressure, never have been. So while lots of parents go about spending ludicrous amounts of money on their child's birthday party, I decided to do it my way. Frugally, but at no point compromising on the fun factor.

Here are my top 7 tried and tested tips to hosting a fantastic and fun-filled children's birthday party without having to break the bank.

 Here are my top 7 tried and tested tips to hosting a fantastic and fun-filled children's birthday party when you are on a budget.

I say tried and tested, because every guest that left our home at the end of J's third birthday party had only one thing to say, "Best party ever!" I am not even talking about the grown-ups.

1) There is no place like home! 

Why spend a fortune on the party venue when you can get an excellent one for free? Try hosting your party in the comfort of your own home. And if the sun is shining, in your garden if you have one. Okay, so there will be a big mess to clear up at the end of the day, but you would have saved yourself a bundle in the process. 

2) Make your own decorations

A string of paper flowers or a few paper lanterns dotted around the place can transform any venue to host a party. Try making some bunting and festoon it with balloons. You can even craft your own party invitations. Making your own decorations is a great way to get the whole family involved with the preparations and it will save you money.

7 tips to hosting a frugal children's birthday party

 3) DIY food

If you are a good baker, go ahead and bake the birthday cake yourself. Cupcakes are easier to decorate and kids love them. So a great alternative if you do not feel very confident about baking and decorating a big cake.

The same goes for all the party food as well. It is one thing to place an order for the birthday buffet, it is quite another to plan the menu and make most of it from scratch. A very satisfying experience in my opinion.

4) The power of the pound and charity shop

These are two of my absolute favourites when it comes to hunting for a bargain. They are great places to buy bits and pieces that you will need for your party. I always pick up disposable crockery, cutlery and napkins from the pound shop. Charity shops are like Aladdin's cave. Keep looking hard enough, and there is always a good bargain to be had. The odd serving platter or a pair of china bowls, stock up through the year and use them when the time comes.

5) Choose a theme

Themed birthday parties are all the rage at the moment, with parents spending a small fortune on everything from pottery painting to soft play to swimming. You don't have to go bankrupt to host a themed birthday party for your children. Pick a theme you can deal with in the comfort of your own home. Try a paddling pool party, a finger painting party or a bubble blowing party. Perhaps a jewelery-making or fancy dress party for the older ones. All great fun, yet cheap and easy to put together.

6) Budget for return gifts

Decide how much you can afford and are willing to spend on party bags for your invitees. Rather than spend money on a lot of useless, cheap plastic toys, put some thought into it and pick a couple of substantial pieces in keeping with the theme of your party. 

7) Be brave

The one thing that will stop you in your frugal party hosting tracks is peer pressure. Not just on your children, but also on you. School-gate chatter and playground politics has a huge impact on how we function as parents. On what choices we make for our children. Be brave. Try not to yield to that pressure. More money spent does not equate to more fun. You can do so much on a small budget if you put your heart into it. You will be saving money. You will also be teaching your children an important life-lesson.

These are my top tips to hosting a children's birthday party without the need to burn a hole in your pocket. Give it a try. Your guests will thank you for the relaxed atmosphere and the unstructured merriment. 

Do you spend a lot on your children's parties? How do you budget for them?


  1. Good for you! We held a party at home for our son last year even though he had been begging to go to soft play like all of his friends. Everyone had a great time and I'm really glad we didn't give in to the pressure. We made it really easy by cooking a load of pizza and chips for lunch rather than making lots of buffet food and it all got eaten! It proves you don't need to spend a fortune to throw a great party - just a bit of imagination and effort.

  2. I remember having a party at home for my son, he had a space party! All the children said it was better than any other party they had been too! Traditional party games were changed slightly so we had pin the tentacle on the alien, musical asteroids and pass the space rock!

  3. Well done for hosting at home. I wish I had the courage to do so. Maybe next year.

  4. Great tips, we hired a hall for Baby's 1st birthday party but is was only 30 quid and our house isn't very large. I did make almost everything else myself, or with help from friends and family x

  5. Awesome post....I totally agree!

  6. I nearly always host at home and with summer birthdays it's even easier in the garden. I do all the catering myself, like you say, pound shops are great, you can get big backs of sweet and savoury snacks to fill up your table. I also make my own cakes. I never buy invitations or decorations, I make them all myself.

  7. looks a fantastic good 'ol down to earth party, the best! :) x

  8. I don't understand why people hold huge expensive parties for their children when they are too young to understand any of it. Your party sounds great!

  9. All great ideas. We recently threw a birthday party and did most of these. A friend did facepainting though and if I'd paid for that it would have cost a fortune!

  10. we pretty much always have parties at home - simple and fun and everyone always loves them

  11. Fab tips. I've always avoided parties at home as until now my children have been born in the winter. Now I have a summer baby and we can get outside it's something I'll definitely do!

  12. I love parties at home and actually our children have always been happy to go to them and have them. I think they can hold the best memories!

  13. Sounds like you nada great time. I did a party for my title one's 3rd birthday for the first time this year. Making all the lunches for the kids was stressful but they all loved it and to take home I made a biscuit and a cupcake so that didn't cost much either. We did hire a venue though as I just wouldn't have coped with that many kids and parents in our home in the winter!

  14. Wow if I had a garden like your I would definitely have it at home, unfortunately we are in a small flat so that would be a disaster. I love choosing a theme, it sounds like you're had a great time! x

  15. Although this place for events in NYC is probably not cheap, but they are centrally located, have fabulous staff and delicious food, and most importantly, the best views of the city.

  16. I like your idea of giving thought to your return gifts instead of choosing a bunch of useless inedible gifts. Kiddie party themes should reflect well on all the needs of the party from decor, to the food to even the return gift.


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